Tomato Pulao Recipe | South Indian Tomato Pulao Recipe

Tomato Pulao Recipe is yet another easy one-pot meal that you make in a matter of a few minutes. It is a flavorful and delicious tomato-based rice dish. This rice dish is mostly served for lunch with raita and papad.

After moving from Mumbai to Hyderabad a few years back, I was amazed by the varieties of mixed rice recipes in South Indian cuisine. The cuisine deals with many flavored rice recipes made with vegetables, leafy vegetables, lemon, tamarind, spices, herbs, etc. I shall be posting every variety with time.

Many special rice dishes are served during special occasions, festivals, functions, house parties, and wedding buffets.

Pulaos are a great time savior for me during weekdays. Especially, when I am not in a mood or short on time to make an elaborate meal, yet want one wholesome, filling, and delicious dish. They always do the job of bringing a grand meal to the dining table in under 30 minutes.

tomato pulao recipe

About Tomato Pulao Recipe

The Tomato Pulao Recipe is pretty simple with minimum prep and you need minimal ingredients. In this recipe, I have used onions with other spices and herbs to prepare mushy tomato masala. Later, rice is cooked in this masala. Simmering the rice in the tomato masala will ensure all the flavors seep inside the rice grains making the pulao super delicious.

The recipe I’m sharing is made in a pan on the stovetop and can be easily made in a pressure cooker, Rice cooker, or Instant pot.

All you need is raw rice, whole spices, onion, tomatoes, herbs, and spices, and still promises a punch of bold flavors! The tangy flavor of tomatoes shines through the rice and you will love the mild spicy taste here.

Normally, in tomato pulao, no other vegetables are added. But, to make this pulao filling, I added potatoes and green peas. It is one of the tastiest combinations and adds some contrast in color. If you want to make this rice dish nutritious, you can add sweet corn, chopped carrots, beans, paneer, and soya chunks.

The Tomato Pulao recipe is one of the easiest rice recipes you can pack in lunchboxes for kids and adults. While making for kids’ lunchbox, you can skip whole spices and add a pinch of garam masala along with other spice powders. This will make perfect for kids with flavors and spices that they can handle.

The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled, just use a bigger pan. You can make it for a picnic, brunch, during long journeys, and overnight travel.

Reasons to make

Easy to make

One-pot meal

Tastes super delicious, medium-spicy and tangy.

Fuss-free cooking.

Rice dish for special occasions,

Recipe is especially suitable for bachelors and beginners.

Kids friendly.

A meal in itself does not need a side dish.

south indian tomato pulao recipe

Pro Tips

Tomato Pulao is a drool-worthy, gluttonous gem on par with basmati or long-grain rice.

To make non-sticky pulao, it is always good to wash the rice well until the water gets clear.

Soak the rice in water for 30-60 minutes and not more than that for the best result.

Tomatoes being the key ingredient, select ripe, juicy, wrinkle-free, and sour tomatoes.

I love the loaded tomato flavor, so used the tomatoes accordingly. If you want a slightly mellower flavor, you can reduce the number of tomatoes.

For a spicy tomato pulao, go big on the fresh green chilies or red chilly powder.

Add the soaked rice to the boiling water, it helps the rice grains to cook quickly and also prevents the rice to become soggy.

Ingredients

Rice: You can prepare tomato pulao with either basmati rice or sona masuri rice. I have used basmati rice as the long-grain rice looks appealing but it tastes equally great with sona masuri. Just add water cautiously to retain the rice grains separate and fluffy. Generally, aged rice is best for such rice preparations.

Fat: For pulaos, I use oil and clarified butter (ghee). You can use any neutral flavor cooking oil in this recipe.

Tomatoes: I have used local tomatoes to get the perfect tangy tomato pulao.

Whole spices: bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick, green cardamom, star anise, stone flower, and cumin.

As we are not using any special spice mix, it is crucial to use good quality whole spices. Also, you can skip spices that you do not prefer though.

Vegetables: onion, potato, and green peas.

Green chilies: the chilly used in this recipe is mild in spice.

Spice powders: turmeric powder and red chili powder.

Herbs & seasonings: dried fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, mint leaves, and salt.

How to make Tomato Pulao

Preparation

1. Add 1 cup basmati rice to a bowl.

2 & 3. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.

4. Soak in 3 cups of water for 30-60 minutes.

While the rice is soaking, prep the veggies.

Making Tomato Pulao

5. Heat 2 tablespoons of any neutral flavored oil in a heavy bottom pan/kadhai over medium flame. When hot, add the following whole spices and saute them for a few seconds until aromatic.

1 inch cinnamon
3 cloves
1 green cardamom
1 small star anise
1 small stone flower
2 tej patta or Indian bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

6. Add 1 small onion thinly sliced and 1 green chilly roughly chopped. Saute until the onions turn soft.

7 & 8. Add 1 tsp fresh ginger-garlic paste and saute until the raw aroma goes away.

9. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and saute for 5 seconds.

10 & 11. Add 3-4 medium-sized tomatoes thinly sliced. Saute by stirring often until they become soft and mushy.

12. Add the vegetables – 1 small potato cut into cubes and 1/4 cup green peas.

13. Stir and saute for 1 minute.

14 & 15. Turn the flame to low. Add salt to taste and 1/2-1 tsp of red chili powder. Stir and mix well.

16. Add 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, 2 tbsp coriander leaves, and 1 tbsp mint leaves.

17. Add 2 cups of water (can add the same water in which the rice was soaked and discard the remaining water). Mix well.

18. Turn the flame to high and let the water come to a rolling boil.

19. Add the soaked rice and gently mix well.

20. Continue to cook on high flame.

21 & 22. Let the water reduce to the level of the rice.

23. Add 1 tbsp of clarified butter/ghee and gently give a good mix.

24. Close the pan with a tight lid. Lower the flame and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Do not open the pan or mix while the rice is getting cooked.

Turn off the flame and let the pan remain undisturbed for another 10-15 minutes.

25 & 26. Now open the pan and gently fluff the rice with a fork or spatula.

Tomato Pulao is ready. Serve it hot with your choice of side dish.

Serving Suggestions

Serve tomato pulao with plain yogurt or various raita (onion raita, boondi raita, cucumber raita). For some crunch, have some papadum or chips on the side.

Kids will love this with a side of potato fry.

More Related Recipes

Coriander Veg Pulao

Jeera Rice

Gongura Rice

Basmati Rice

Bagara Rice

If you’ve tried this homestyle Tomato Pulao Recipe, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.

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Recipe Card

tomato pulao recipe

Tomato Pulao Recipe

Author: Santosh Allada
Tomato Pulao is a popular South Indian style rice prepared with a generous amount of tomatoes that tastes super delicious, medium-spicy, and tangy.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Servings 3 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Rice (basmati or long grain)
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 numbers Bay leaves
  • 3 numbers Cloves
  • 1 inch Cinnamom stick
  • 1 small Stone Flower
  • 1 small Star Anise
  • 1 small Onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 Green chilly
  • 1 tsp Ginger garlic paste
  • 3-4 medium size Tomatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 1 small Potato (cut into cubes)
  • 1/4 cup Green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2-1 tsp Red chili powder
  • 1 tsp Dried Fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tbsp Coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp Mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp Clarified butter (ghee)
  • 2 cups Water
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Add 1 cup basmati rice to a bowl.
  • Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Soak in 3 cups of water for 30-60 minutes.
  • Heat any neutral flavored oil in a heavy bottom pan/kadhai over medium flame. When hot, add the whole spices and saute them for a few seconds until aromatic.
  • Add thinly sliced onion and 1 green chilly roughly chopped. Saute until the onions turn soft.
  • Add fresh ginger-garlic paste and saute until the raw aroma goes away.
  • Add turmeric powder and saute for 5 seconds.
  • Next, add thinly sliced tomatoes. Saute by stirring often until they become soft and mushy.
  • Add the vegetables of your choice. Stir and saute for 1 minute.
  • Turn the flame to low. Add salt to taste and red chili powder. Stir and mix well.
  • Add dried fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, and mint leaves.
  • Add 2 cups of water (can add the same water in which the rice was soaked and discard the remaining water). Mix well.
  • Turn the flame to high and let the water come to a rolling boil.
  • Add the soaked rice and gently mix well. Continue to cook on high flame.
  • Let the water reduce to the level of the rice. Add 1 tbsp of clarified butter/ghee and gently give a good mix.
  • Close the pan with a tight lid. Lower the flame and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Do not open the pan or mix while the rice is getting cooked.
  • Turn off the flame and let the pan remain undisturbed for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Now open the pan and gently fluff the rice with a fork or spatula.
  • Tomato Pulao is ready. Serve it hot with your choice of side dish.

Notes

For making basmati rice non-sticky, it is important to rinse the rice very well until most of the starch is gone and also soak the rice to make it non-sticky.
You can also make this in a pressure cooker. The water quantity and cooking time required will depend on the rice quality.
 


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